23 May 2018

Andrew Dodson: The Sacrificial Lamb of the Alt-Left




Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images


News broke in right-wing spheres this week about Andrew Dodson —an American activist who passed away from a drug overdose and suspected suicide on March 9th 2018 in his home.

Dodson, 34, was a graduate of Westminster Catawba Christian School who then went on to Clemson University, where he earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. He later studied at the University of Arkansas, completing his graduate work in Electrical Engineering—after which he moved to Boston, MA and worked with several companies in Advanced Nuclear Reactor Design. Recently, Drew and other scientists were pursuing a new class of molten salt test reactors for producing goods such as medical isotopes. His dream was to see a world with cheaper, cleaner, safer energy.

Andrew’s death has come as a shock to many who knew and had met him before—his family having kept it quiet back in March— but to the attendees of Charlottesville, it has served as an unsettling reminder of the sentences many of them are still serving today since attending the rally.

The ‘Charlottesville’ event, held on August 12th 2017, was officially called ‘Unite the Right’. Its stated goal was to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. Speakers included Richard Spencer, Mike Enoch, Baked Alaska, Augustus Invictus, and several others.

After the disastrous fallout and the subsequent media furore over the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, images of the attendees quickly began circulating left-wing blogs and Twitter accounts in an attempt to identify and locate those who were involved.


Stephanie Keith, Daily Mail

Charlottesville is to this day used an example of ‘when the right go too far’, however key speakers claimed afterwards that many of the issues faced by attendees on both sides of the political spectrum that day pointed towards a ‘set up’ by the Mayor and the Police. Blockades were due to be installed in the immediate area surrounding Emancipation Park to ensure no vehicles would be granted access, yet on the day these were not put in place. There were also many who claimed that they were pushed into what they called a ‘kill box’ whereby the protestors were forced into close proximity with the violent counter-protestors. 

Eye witnesses also claimed the Police seemed very ‘relaxed’ on the day, standing by the perimeter of the event and ‘watching’ as opposed to making arrests, and the only rst aid available was from the Unite the Right stewards, not the emergency services. Weapons such as knives and bats were also found in the perimeter of the park the morning of the event, allegedly left by the anti-fascist counter protestors to use on the day.

Blocades were due to be installed in the immediate area surrounding Emancipation Park to ensure no vehicles would be granted access, yet on the day these were not put in place. There were also many who noted that they were pushed into what they called a ‘kill box’ whereby the protestors were forced into close proximity with the violent counter-protestors, putting activists in immediate physical danger.


Joshua Roberts, Reuters

Eye witnesses also claimed the Police seemed very ‘relaxed’ on the day, standing by the perimeter of the event and ‘watching’ as opposed to making arrests.

The only first aid available was from the Unite the Right stewards, not the emergency services. Weapons such as knives and bats were also found in the perimeter of the park the morning of the event, allegedly left by the anti-fascist counter protestors to use on the day.

A state of emergency was declared by the Police Department due to violent scuffles breaking out in surrounding areas before the speakers were due to start, and yet counter-protestors were allowed to stay in the streets for over two hours without arrests being made. It was during this time that Heather Heyer was hit by a car driven by James Fields.

Alejandro Alvarez, Reuters

Andrew Dodson was an attendee of that march, where he was pepper sprayed directly in the eyes. Online footage shows him screaming out in what looks like excruciating pain. Afterwards, he is seen telling his attackers “I forgive you. I love you”, which is met with laughter and cries of ‘LOSER’ from his political adversaries as he walks away.

Logan Smith, a member of the Progress movement, released a tweet on 13th August asking for information on Dodson.

Since 2012, Smith had been using social media to crowd source the identities of suspected neo-Nazis and white supremacists under the username @yesyoureracist - to call them out for ‘spreading racism and hatred’.

In an interview with NBC he was quoted:


If they’re really so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with white supremacists and neo-Nazis then I think that their communities need to know who these people are.”


In another tweet published on August 12, Logan wrote:


“You can either actively oppose white supremacy, or you can silently support it. There is no other option. Silence is consent. #BashTheFash”


‘Bash the Fash’ is a phrase popularised by Antifascist movements worldwide, so it would be fair to assume that he is a supporter of Antifa. Smith was also the first person to share Dodson’s personal information online, leading to a lengthy harassment. He received a barrage of death threats, as did his family and employer, to the point where they had to distance themselves from him—during which point he seemed to retreat into a ‘dark place’, eventually falling into heroin use.


Quote from Andrew


Tyler, a personal friend of Andrew’s, wrote in an online forum:


“Andrew was not a racist. He was a very troubled person with a myriad of flaws, but he did not deserve
the vitriolic hate that he received. In my personal opinion he was punishing himself for the mistakes he made and for the ways he treated others. I tried very hard to get him into counselling, but I was too late.”


Many accounts, including Logan Smith, had originally misidentified Andrew several times before he nally gave himself in— not wanting to cause any trouble to those who had been targeted as a result.

Another instrumental figure in outing Dodson’s identity was Jacob Rosenberg, who arguably produced the first serious publication which spread his identity for the world to see. In his article, Rosenberg writes:

“He said he had participated in the campaign to elect Ron Paul president in 2008, the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party movement and, after these experiences, went to Charlottesville because he wanted to “see who these alt-right people were.” He knew they had been labeled racists but, Dodson said, the media often lied about Ron Paul and the Occupy Movement.”



A prominent alt-right figure, Millennial Matt, also voiced his frustration about the fact that Dodson was targeted for being ‘alt-right’, despite not sharing the same views as the small percentage of Charlottesville marchers who would use that label:


“Dodson and 90% of the Charlottesville protesters were not Nazis. They were normal people that you would see at any other rally. Andrew was a hilarious, goofy guy with a massive heart. He was highly intelligent and cared deeply about the world. His personal life goal was to create inexpensive, sustainable energy. He was the victim of a mass harassment campaign by Major Media organisations. Andrew unfortunately lost his life as a result.”


At the time of writing, Logan Smith’s Twitter account is still active, with close to 400k followers. He is said to be ‘highly dedicated’ to his work and is seemingly very in uential online, followed by Twitter staff, celebrities, and endorsed by networks such as MSNBC and CNN.

One of the questions this raises is—why does Twitter allow the @yesyoureracist account to remain active when it directly violates their own Terms of Service? Specifically the clauses in relation to ‘Abusive Behaviour’ and ‘Private Information and Intimate Media’. According to Twitter’s own Terms Of Service, “People who violate this policy more than once and/or accounts dedicated to posting private information may be suspended.”

So why, then is the @yesyoureracist account still active? Is there a loophole he is making use of? And if so, should this be looked into by Jack and his team? Or is this account allowed to remain functional because Smith is fighting for the ‘right’ side?



For me, on a more personal note, the question is—is this the direction we are going to continue in as a society?

Is fear of death, or at the very least your life being torn apart by strangers, something we should be warning our children about when it comes to engaging in politics?

As someone who wouldn’t call myself alt-right, I often find myself defending them, if not for anything else other than their right to a life outside of politics, as well as their physical safety. I always make an effort to listen to their podcasts, engage with them online and make sense of the movement.

We even banter sometimes about my liberal- leaning views. After observing the morally bankrupt and sadistic frenzy of my peers, I see my defence of them as a sometimes uncomfortable but necessary duty.

It’s frustrating to me that the allegations against the mayor aren’t discussed when reporting on Charlottesville, because its safer promote the ‘us good, them bad’ journalistic angle, rather than looking objectively at facts and finding out the truth of what happened that day. This was a legal event. If the allegations are found to be true then this is a very serious offence which the Mayor has committed and he put a lot of innocent people in danger. That is simply wrong.



Andrew Dodson, from everything I’ve managed to gather and watch of him, seemed to be a good, albeit a damaged, man. He forgave his political adversaries, he was introspective, he took responsibility for himself and wanted desperately to engage in dialogue and make a positive impact on the world. When Trump said there were ‘very fine people on both sides’, I believe Andrew was one of them.

He also was not alt-right. But even if he was, his death is not justified.

Is this the ‘pure form’ of the alt-left? Do the ‘moderates’ watch in silent approval as the ‘radicals’ carry out their bidding? Removing the opponents right to a private life, familial ties, employment and, ultimately, their right to life itself? I think I know the answer but I can’t quite bring myself to type it. Instead I will leave you with a quote from Andrew.

His death should serve as a warning beacon to us.

All of us.